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What Happened With FISA, Part II


UPDATE: Nancy Pelosi is appearing today at the Portsmouth, NH Library at 4:30 pm at press conference for Carol Shea Porter. Seriously – anyone in Portsmouth, Durham, Exeter, get over there and ask Nancy what gives. She also might be appearing some where else in NH tonight. (hat tip ladybug).

Pelosi will also be in Rye, NH tonight from 5-7pm at a fundraiser for Porter.

Further to Matt Stoller’s post on OpenLeft regarding what happened with the FISA bill, I entered into an email exchange with Kagro X of DailyKos who thought that the Hoyer/Clyburn screwup story regarding the “good bill” was somewhat incomplete:

Might have been a screwup. But they knew the bill they put on the suspension calendar would require a conference with the Senate, because the Senate was passing the bad one.

So you put the “good” one on the suspensions calendar (which limits debate to 40 minutes and allows no amendments and no motions to recommit), get 218 votes for it, but it “fails” anyway, because you need 2/3.

Who misses a vote count by 70+ votes?

Now, though, Dems who voted for the “good” bill get to say they support that one (and therefore “tough” new authority), but oppose the “bad” one, without actually facing the danger of PASSING the good one, and so requiring a conference with the Senate and another vote before they can get out of town.

There’s no reason to have this on the suspension calendar at all. If you want to preclude amendments, preclude them in the rule. If you want to shorten debate, shorten it in the rule. If you want to preclude wedge issues from popping up in motions to recommit, then DISCIPLE YOUR FUCKING CAUCUS and make motions to recommit leadership votes where you get your ass kicked if you vote with Republicans, the way it used to be and I’ve been saying it should be again.

But the upshot of this is that there was no reason to put this on the suspensions calendar unless you really didn’t want it to pass. Which is perfectly reasonable in that the good bill sucked too. But if your alternative is the bad bill, then you’re screwed.

The upshot seems to be that while they didn’t necessarily want to pass Bush’s bad bill, they didn’t want to pass their own good bill either. It existed mainly so House members could vote for it as political cover with progressives without ever really having a chance of passing.

Selise put together a timeline of what happened in the Senate here.

Powwow put together a timeline of what happened in the House here.

We’re still looking for public appearances by Reid, Pelosi, Emanuel, Clyburn and Hoyer for the month of August so constituents can go and ask them what exactly happened. So far:

August 9 — Nancy Pelosi will be in Stamford, CT at a fundraiser for Chris Murphy at Il Falco Restaurant, 59 Broad Street, from 12:00 – 1:30 pm.

August 10 — Jim Clyburn will be at the “Grand Clyburn” golf tournament in Tunica, Mississippi.

August 12-14 — Nancy Pelosi will be touring New Orleans and Mississippi

August 15 — Harry Reid will be in Pahrump, NV at a town hall meeting at the Bob Ruud Community Center, Highway 160 and Basin Street from 11:30 am until 1pm.

August 21 — Steny Hoyer will conduct a town hall meeting in Syracuse, NY on the war in Iraq, time and place to be determined.

Occam’s razor may in fact apply here and it may just be that many members of Congress think that these are the kinds of powers that the government should have. That makes it doubly important that people show up and let the leadership know how they feel, because pressure from constituents is probably the only thing that will shake them into action.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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